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Is It Legal To Ride A Bicycle On The Sidewalk In Los Angeles?

  • By: John Rosenberg
  • Published: 03/04/2014

Accidents between cars and bicycles are all too common. In any contest between a car and a bicycle, the car always wins. One issue that arises often is the insurance company’s claim that the cyclist was riding in the wrong direction on the sidewalk or crosswalk. Is this a proper argument and defense to an injury claim from a bicyclist? The answer is no!

The law requires that a bicycle rider stay as close to the right as possibile while riding in the street. The rider must also ride in the same direction of travel as cars when riding in the street. In southern California, motorists are not always, or even usually, considerate of people riding bicycles. Even in designated bike lanes, motorists often pass traffic by driving in the bicycle lane. In those situations, a person on a bicycle is a sitting duck with little protection from even a slow moving car beyond a helmet. How can you or your children be safe when riding a bicycle?

For some people, the solution is to ride on the sidewalk. But, is this legal? The answer depends on which city you are in. In California, the law allows individual cities to form their own rules and regulations about this issue. In the city of Los Angeles, it is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk as long as it is done safely. In fact, when it is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, the bicycle rider can ride in either direction, just like the pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. Why is this important for accidents involving bicyclists?

Many bicycle injuries occur when the driver of a car is exiting a parking lot and stikes a bicyclist riding on the sidewalk. Some occur when a vehicle, turning right from one street to another, hits a bicyclist in the crosswalk traveling towards the right turning motorist. For years, insurance companies have tried to deny claims or reduce the value paid on such injury claims stating that the bicyclist on the sidewalk was not traveling in the same direction as the flow of traffic on the street. This argument is false and is a misstatement of the law. In fact, when it is lawful to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk and in a crosswalk it may be done in either direction, as long as it is done safely.

If you have been injured in a car vs. bicycle collision, don’t let an insurance claims representative tell you that your claim should be denied or reduced due to your negligence for riding in the “wrong direction” on a sidewalk or crosswalk. Knowing your rights on this issue can save your case from an unfair or low settlement. Call our office today at (818) 530-1770 to learn more.

John Rosenberg

John P. Rosenberg has been representing clients
who have suffered serious personal injuries and
accidents for...Read More